France says Morales jet was given air permit

France on Wednesday said it had given permission for Bolivian President Evo Morales's jet to cross its airspace, after officials in La Paz claimed that overflight had been denied.

"The permission for overflight was indeed given," foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said but refused to confirm reports that it had not been initially granted.

Bolivian officials said earlier that the plane, which took off from Moscow, had to stop in Vienna after France, Italy, Spain and Portugal denied it entry into their airspace amid suspicion that fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden was on board.

In France, there are about five entities involved in questions regarding overflight and this could have explained the delay, a French diplomatic source said.

Two Bolivian ministers later said that France eventually gave permission for the plane to cross its airspace.

Morales had been on a visit to Moscow, where Snowden has been holed up in an airport transit area since June 23. He is seeking to avoid US espionage charges for revealing a vast surveillance program to collect phone and Internet data.

Both Bolivia and Austria are among a reported 21 countries where Snowden has applied for asylum.